Argos' Achilles heel likely to miss game

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:01 AM ET

When the issue of Avon Cobourne was addressed with Argonauts head coach Rich Stubler yesterday, his response was quick.

"If you any information on (Cobourne's injury), I would love to have it," Stubler said, not really joking.

Well, Stubler's preparation for the Argos' game in Montreal against the Alouettes tomorrow might need some major tweaking. It's all but certain Cobourne, who was the CFL's offensive player of the month in August and had a league-high 815 rushing yards heading into Week 11, will not be uniform when kickoff goes just after 1 p.m.

Cobourne, who posterized the Argos for 210 total yards in a Montreal romp three weeks ago, has been nursing a tender right ankle since hurting it last week against the B.C. Lions.

"Other than a miracle, (Mike) Imoh is up and Cobourne is down," Als head coach Marc Trestman told reporters yesterday in Montreal.

There is nothing bad about this for the Argos, who go in at 4-5 and will try to ride the crest of confidence that arose out of a win in Hamilton on Monday night that probably saved Stubler's job. The Als, at 6-3, hold first place in the East Division and there's no reason why they should not be in the same spot when the season ends, considering the generally poor play of the Argos, Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

But with Cobourne in civilian clothes, the idea that the Argos plod off the field at Molson Stadium with a win doesn't sound as crazy. Defensive tackle Ronald Flemons called Cobourne the best back in the league, and even though quarterback Anthony Calvillo is having a renaissance season, in Stubler's mind, Cobourne "makes their offence go."

No matter who is carrying the ball for the Als, the Argos plan to continue the same kind of defence that helped beat the Ticats in the Labour Day Classic. That means a greater emphasis on the attack at the line of scrimmage and lining up with four- and five-man fronts, if not more. It also means that a pair of veterans, Mike O'Shea and Michael Fletcher, again will not get the kind of playing time to which they have become accustomed.

As it is, the Als have plenty of weapons, and would not have had to rely on a run game as much as the Ticats even if Cobourne was healthy. Calvillo has favourite targets in Kerry Watkins, Jamel Richardson and Ben Cahoon and has tossed a league-best 21 touchdowns.

"I'm going to do what I have to do," Stubler said. "There are no players who are going to be coddled, we just have to play. Osh did a great job of understanding where he is physically, mentally he is our best player. We need to move along."

O'Shea did not gripe after the game against Hamilton, which was no surprise to Stubler.

"He comes from a different era of really non-selfish people," Stubler said. "Times have changed. We have Ocho Cinco (a reference to the Cincinnati Bengals' Chad Johnson, who changed his last name to that this week) or whatever his name is down south. Everybody has to do something to get attention and it is nice to have a throwback like Osh."


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